About The Book
The First World War is over, and in a quiet Hampshire village, artist Stanley Spencer is working on the commission of a lifetime, painting an entire chapel in memory of a life lost in the war to end all wars. Combining his own traumatic experiences with moments of everyday redemption, the chapel will become his masterpiece.
When Elsie Munday arrives to take up position as housemaid to the Spencer family, her life quickly becomes entwined with the charming and irascible Stanley, his artist wife Hilda and their tiny daughter Shirin.
As the years pass, Elsie does her best to keep the family together even when love, obsession and temptation seem set to tear them apart…
A vivid picture of the life of painter Stanley Spencer, Stanley and Elsie reimagines real people and events, giving new insight from the perspective of a charismatic female lead.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Stanley and Elsie was a novel that made me cry, laugh and spend more time on the internet looking at art than any book I’ve read before. I had never heard of Stanley Spencer or Hilda Carline and I found the story concerning the painting of the chapel fascinating.
The first part of the novel which focuses on Elsie was my favourite part. I loved the way she handled both Spencer and Hilda, refusing to keep her thoughts regarding the behaviour to each other and their children to herself. She saw them as people, who made many mistakes but who also had a lot of good points despite letting Stanley’s work dominate their lives. She wasn’t just an employee, she was a friend. It was Elsie who made me laugh, she was so down to earth.
When the account switched to Patricia and Dorothy in part two my feelings regarding Stanley changed. Selfish, critical and self obsessed but I felt he didn’t deserve what they had planned for him. There was nothing that endeared me to these two.
It is the first book I have read by this author and completely different to what I usually read. I am so pleased I read it, it’s wonderful.